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Fewer than 190 structures lost, damaged in Kelowna fires

Last night a 'calm but very busy night,' says West Kelowna fire chief
A firefighter with the BC Wildfire Service mops up at the scene of a wildfire

It is expected the number of partial and full structural losses to the McDougall Creek wildfire within West Kelowna and on Westbank First Nation lands will be less than 90, in addition to fewer than 100 in the regional district.

West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund says Canada Task Force 1 has completed its rapid damage assessment and also worked with the RMCP to confirm that there has been no loss of life and there are no outstanding missing people.

Brolund says that while 90 structures have been significantly damaged or lost in his jurisdiction, more than 3,000 homes were saved in the operating area.

North Westside fire chief Ross Kotscherofski, who is responsible for the area outside city and WFN limits, provided a rough estimate of the number of homes impacted in that area at fewer than 100 structures. The Traders Cove neighbourhood and Lake Okanagan Resort were the hardest hit areas, he said.

Brolund would not get specific about the most-impacted neighbourhoods in West Kelowna and on WFN lands, but already revealed Monday that no homes were lost in the Shannon Lake, Talus Ridge, Smith Creek, Rose Valley neighbourhoods as well as the Lenz Road modular home park.

Brolund characterized last night as a “calm but very busy night.”

Fire crews fought 24 spot fires in the area over the course of the night.

“There was a very close call in one of the neighbourhoods where a tree and wood pile ignited and the home was saved through the action of firefighters.”

“We are working, still, incredibly hard to make sure that we don't lose any homes.”

With the lifting of a small number of evacuation orders on Monday night, Brolund says he is finally starting to feel like they are “turning a corner” on the fire.

“We are meeting multiple times a day to talk about where, when and how we can rescind these evacuation orders.”

Brolund has said the lifting of evacuation orders will be a phased and gradual process, as illustrated by the minor changes to the orders made on Monday night.

He said he expects the smoke to clear somewhat today, which should allow the BC Wildfire Service to get air support back up.

“But the mountains around our community are going to look different. We haven't seen them since the fire and it might be pretty dramatic, to start to see what what we've lost out there,” Brolund said.

BC Wildfire Service incident commander Brad Litke said there are 172 structural firefighters, 72 wildland firefighters and other support staff assigned to the blaze today.

“From a weather perspective, we're expecting lighter winds today but there is a threat of convective activity or thunderstorms. With thunderstorms comes wind, but there may come a small amount of rain associated with that which would be helpful.”